The two largest planets in our solar system, Jupiter and Saturn, align on Dec. 21 to create what's sometimes referred to as the "Christmas Star". When the planets line up on the day marking the start of the winter solstice, they will appear to form a double planet.
It's a rare event and one that hasn't been seen since the Middle Ages, according to Rick Larson from the "Star of Bethlehem" documentary. But in reality, the planets won't be close at all. It will just look like that to viewers on Earth. "What's happening on Dec. 21st, as beautiful as it is, is not the Star of Bethlehem," Larson explains. This Christmas Star only involves Jupiter and Saturn, but he believes the real Star of Bethlehem was much more complex, involving two planets along with several other remarkable celestial bodies.
Larson has done a lot of research on this topic, tracing the actual movements of the planets and stars back to the time of Christ. "The Star of Bethlehem is a conjunction of Jupiter and Venus," he explains. "The conjunction, which means a coming together, was so close that they basically stacked like a figure 8 and they didn't obscure one another's brightness, and the result was the brightest star that anyone alive had ever seen."
There have been many theories about the identity of the biblical star of Bethlehem that appeared at Christ's birth, a combination of historical research, astronomical insight, and biblical understanding has come together to present a plausible explanation that is both miraculous and understandable.
As Larson points out, this theory finds the planet Jupiter to be part of that star. In the ancient world, all heavenly bodies were considered "stars".
The Magi or the three wise men were, most likely, court advisers to Babylon who used the stars to give guidance to the ruler. Why would God guide astrologers, of all people, to the King of Kings? This example, according to some writers, was Christ's first human ministry to unbelievers.